Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, January 15, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 11

OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, January 15, 2022 
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, January 15, 2022 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola 


Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMeghan MalooleyMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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If you are unaware of the meaning of the word “Diacritic”, 
don’t be disappointed. You can’t be expected to be 
familiar with every word in the dictionary. That word is 
intended to be a crucial part of this article relating to anticipation 
and disappointments. My first recollection of 
great anticipation followed by tremendous disappointment 
concerns the birth of my sister. At three and a half, an only 
child, I was the center of attention. Really quite happy but a 
bit lonely. I can remember my parents telling me that soon 

a new playmate would arrive and I could hardly wait. Now almost seventy-five years later 
I can remember my mother’s voice over the phone as she told me that she would be bringing 
home someone else to join our family. “What’s the name?” I asked. and my mother 
said “Elaine Rita.” 

Already I was a bit disappointed as this sounded like a pretty funny name for a 
friend; but in a day or so I waited expectantly with my grandmother at the door with a 
little bat and ball ready to play with my new friend. My parents brought in something in a 
blanket and told me this was my new sister. What a disappointment! She didn’t do much 
but cry all the time. And worse than that, all of the attention that had formerly been mine 
alone now was being given to this Elaine creature. 

Okay, now let’s move ahead seventy-five years or so to this past Sunday. I awoke 
already unhappy because both the Rams and the Chargers were playing important football 
games which would determine their eligibility for the playoffs starting this coming 
weekend. I was going to miss the games because my wife and I were scheduled to spend 
the day with our granddaughter as her mother had to prepare her appellate argument 
for a case to be heard on Thursday. Normally I would much rather spend time with my 
granddaughter as opposed to doing anything else. Nevertheless I had, let’s say, mixed-
feelings. So at about 6:30 a.m. I walked downstairs to let the dog out. I opened the door 
and looking to the east beheld a spectacular bright red sky almost like nothing I had ever 
seen before. What an unexpected pleasure. I wakened my wife and for about ten minutes 
we gloried in the view. 

Soon we were off to pick up our granddaughter from her house. She immediately 
started talking about going to Descanso Gardens, her most favorite place. My wife 
explained that we all had to get breakfast first and that was not what she expected. We 
found a breakfast place pretty near Descanso and kind of anticipated a difficult meal. 
Contrary to our expectations the inside of the restaurant was huge and pretty empty and 
we were seated at a table right next to a huge window. My granddaughter looked out the 
window and started yelling “hummingbirds”! Just outside the window was a hibiscus tree 
attracting multiple hummingbirds of different colors sucking to their fill. Surprisingly, 
my granddaughter had a wonderful time. 

That Sunday was filled with many anticipations and disappointments. I had taped 
the football games and looked forward to watching them on Monday. Alas, both games 
had gone into overtime and the taped replays ended before the game did. But I have already 
used too many words and I promised to talk about “diacritic”. On Monday night, 
after midnight, I had attempted to solve the New York Times spelling bee puzzle. For 
undoubtedly inappropriate reasons I have great ego involvement in being able to reach 
the Genius level every night. I needed only one more word and anticipated a successful 
solution. Tuesday I had my customary breakfast with a friend and displayed the puzzle 
to him so that we could share my frustration. He looked at the puzzle for a second, one 
second, and said “diacritic”. 

Whoever heard of such a word? Not only did he know the word but he also 
knew its history and went on to discuss a bunch of other things I could not listen to. I 
was devastated, crushed, and forced to realize that a great many people in the world are 
a lot smarter than I am even though I was the best reader in the third grade. It probably 
makes no sense to you or anyone but me; but all morning I thought about disappointments 
going all the way back to the arrival of my sister. I want to make an important point 
here. I think it’s important to persevere and remain curious and not be so drowned in 
the negativity of past failures and to always be on the lookout for new sunsets. Even now. 
Especially now! 


If you get into an argument with a Republican about the GOP’s lamentable 
support for voting rights and its fractured relationship with 
Black Americans, it won’t be long before your rhetorical sparring 
partner bellows “Robert Byrd” at you and declares the argument over. 

The logic here, if it even can be called that, is that because Byrd, the 
wizened former U.S. senator from West Virginia who has been dead 
for more than a decade, was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, 
then Democrats cannot be true supporters of civil rights and Black 
Americans. This political original sin is further compounded, they 

will tell you, by the fact that such southern Democrats as the late Arkansas Gov. Orval 
Fabus led the charge against school desegregation in the late 1950s. 

This analysis leaves out the fact that Byrd had a well-documented change of heart later in 
life, and that the so-called “southern strategy” Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater employed 
in the 1960s lured racist whites into the Republican fold, where they have remained 
ever since. 

A half-century later, a Trumpified Republican Party that’s left the legacy of Abraham Lincoln 
far behind, is still flipping Democrats the Byrd as it stands steadfastly in the way 
of the voting rights legislation that’s now slowly and torturously making its way through 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to hold a vote on two bills, the John R. 
Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, ahead of Monday’s 
nationwide Martin Luther King Day holiday. To do that, Democrats will have to reach an 
internal consensus as they debate whether to change the Senate rules to lift the 60-vote 
threshold to advance legislation. 

With some Democrats opposing the rules change, members of the Congressional Black 
Caucus, along with President Joe Biden, are pushing hard for it. The Senate is divided 5050, 
with Vice President Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote. 

In a speech in Atlanta on Tuesday, Biden laid out the historic stakes of failing to pass 
nationwide voting protections as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country, 
including Pennsylvania, have moved to restrict access to the polls. 

“I think the threat to our democracy is so great that we must find a way to pass this voting 
rights bill,” Biden said. “Debate them, vote, let the majority prevail and if that bare minimum 
is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of 
the filibuster.” 

This week, Republicans opposing the bill made, as Vice News reports, a preposterous argument 
against the two bills, claiming that because so many voters turned out in 2020, that 
there’s no problem with access to the polls, and the protections embedded in the legislation 
aren’t necessary. 

While it’s true that voters turned out in droves two years ago, this ahistorical argument 
once again conveniently leaves out all the actions that Republicans have taken since then. 

At least 19 states have passed 34 laws restricting voting access, according to the Brennan 
Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Analyses have shown that 
turnout increased in states that made it easier to vote, and that there’s no threat to the 
integrity of elections as a result. 

“Simply put, tightening rules to prevent astronomically rare events of fraud is likely to 
cause far more harm than good,” Douglas R. Hess, a political science professor at Grinnell 
College in Iowa, wrote in a March 2021 analysis published by The Conversation. “The 
2020 general election demonstrated that policies expanding access to the ballot – including 
ones targeted for elimination by some bills that states are considering this spring – can 
be implemented securely, even under highly stressful conditions.” 

Only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, has voted to permit consideration 
of a renewed voting rights act. And not a single Republican — including Murkowski — 
voted to take up the Freedom to Vote Act. 

But, in 2006, the “Voting Rights Act passed 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives and 
98 to zero in the Senate with votes from 16 current, sitting Republicans in this United 
States Senate. Sixteen of them voted to extend it,” Biden said this week. 

On Tuesday, Biden forcefully framed the case for passing the bills this way: “Do you want 
to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John 
Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson 

History will judge the GOP based on its final answer. 



When my sister texted to tell me that Sidney Poitier had 
passed away, and I started crying. 

All I could do was conjure up the black and white image 
of a beloved movie, “A Patch of Blue,” the film that made 
me fall in love with Poitier. It’s a powerful movie that 
carries as strong a message about anti-racism as “Guess 

Who’s Coming To Dinner,” without its political posturing 
and preachiness. 

It’s a simple story, about a young blind woman with an abusive mother and a loving 
but alcoholic “Opa,” or grandfather. One day, sitting in the park and working on 
the necklaces she sells to bring in a little money, a storm arises and her carefully 
organized tray of beads spills out onto the grass. It’s at that point that the Poitier 
character, passing through the park, runs to help her. A friendship develops. That 
friendship turns into love, at least from the young girl’s perspective. Poitier’s affection 
is a complicated mixture of attraction, brotherly protection and pity. 

The most compelling part of the nascent relationship is that the young girl’s blindness 
prevents her from realizing that her new friend is Black. In a very literal sense, 
she is color blind. He, on the other hand, is not, and understands the problems that 
the racial divide presents. This movie was filmed in 1965, when Jim Crow was a 
reality, not just a historical disgrace. 

Poitier was the first Black man to win an Academy Award, for his performance as 
an itinerant handyman in “Lillies of the Field.” The scene where he teaches a group 
of Catholic nuns to sing the Negro spiritual “Amen” is both humorous and deeply 
moving. And that movie is, itself, a simple prayer that different races, different 
genders and different faiths cannot just coexist, they can glorify the God that created 

And then there was “To Sir With Love”, the movie that showed the power that 
respect, empathy, good manners and a sense of self-worth can have on those who 
were born with no privilege, and end up saddled with the low expectations of 
generational poverty. The titular song, sung by Lulu, is an ode to the teachers who 
care-often to their own detriment-for children who will grow up, and go away. 
Perhaps the public school teachers in Chicago, and all the others who refuse to go 
back into their classrooms, should watch it. 

And we can’t forget “In The Heat of the Night,” a movie that always reminds me of 
my father when I see it because it tells the story of a Philadelphian who encounters 
blood-deep racism in the 1960s south. Unlike my father, Virgil Tibbs is Black, 
and Poitier inhabits him with the natural instincts of a man who was not used to 
overt racism, encounters it, and finds a way to minimize the stain, relationship by 
fraught relationship. 

I do not write movie reviews. I don’t have the talent or the technical knowledge to 
be able to persuade or dissuade a stranger from enjoying a film. I just watch what 
I like. 

But I needed to write about these films, which have had such an impact on me. 
Poitier won his Oscar in 1964, and I’ve grown up my entire life in the shadow of his 
work. He’s been quiet for many years, a well-deserved last chapter of a brilliantly-
told story. He earned his peace. 

And yet, the messages in his movies were like a thread woven through my own life, 
as I grew to understand the evils of racism, the importance of humility, the searing 
scars of domestic abuse, the crack in the country, north to south, the power 
of the English language, spoken properly and with respect for its innate poetry, 
the beauty of loud and boisterous praise, and the fragility of human relationships. 

In every one of his movies, Sidney Poitier presented us with possibilities of greatness, 
not on battlefields or in laboratories or even on the stage, but within ourselves. 
He showed us what we could be like, if we weren’t saddled with bigotry, 
impatience, intolerance and probably the worst thing of all: apathy. 

That dignity earned him some criticism from people who thought he should have 
been less a gentleman and more a rabble rouser like Malcolm X in the service of 
equality. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he addressed the issue of always 
having to be defined by race: “I was fortunate enough to have been raised to a 
certain point before I got into the race thing. I had other views of what a human is, 
so I was never able to see racism as the big question. Racism was horrendous, but 
there were other aspects to life. There are those who allow their lives to be defined 
only by race. I correct anyone who comes at me only in terms of race.” 

And that’s why we loved him, because he put humanity above identity. 

His life, lived like the most perfect prayer, should end like his greatest film: With 
an Amen. 

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